Man City could emphatically end Chelsea’s chances of signing Matthijs de Ligt with a huge bid mooted, though that may help Thomas Tuchel secure a separate vital piece of business, per reports.
Chelsea are closing in on their first major arrival in the Todd Boehly era. Raheem Sterling will join from Man City in a deal worth £47.5m, per the Athletic. The 27-year-old England international will add a new dimension to Tuchel’s front line, though the outlook on their Raphinha pursuit looks far less rosy.
Elsewhere, the Blues are still hunting replacements for Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.
The centre-back pair have moved to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Replacing Rudiger in particular is of great importance given the way the German made the left centre-back role his own despite being right-footed.
One player earmarked to potentially fill that void is Nathan Ake.
The Dutchman remains the subject of talks between Chelsea and City, per the Daily Mail. As a left-footer, he’d fill the void left by Rudiger, though won’t come cheap.
A target for the right side of the three is fellow Netherlands international, Matthijs de Ligt.
Juventus look increasingly open to De Ligt’s sale this summer with reports claiming a bid of around £76m could twist their arm.
Proposed City move bittersweet news for Tuchel
In fact, the Italian outlet state Pep Guardiola’s side ‘would be ready to offer €90m’ (approx. £76m) for the Juventus superstar.
Guardiola is reportedly seeking to refresh his ranks with an influx of younger talent. Erling Haaland (21) and Julian Alvarez (22) have lowered the average age of the forward line.
De Ligt could do the same at the back, though his arrival would likely hinge on Nathan Ake being sold first. The report suggests the Ake money would be required to sign De Ligt.
As such, if City do act on their interest in De Ligt, the news would be bittersweet for Chelsea.
The Blues would likely miss out on De Ligt if City meet Juve’s asking price, though that could help a deal for Ake to cross the line.
De Ligt a better for for Chelsea?
If De Ligt did replace Ake in City’s centre-back corps, it is hard to see him being a starter.
Guardiola operates with a back four and Ruben Dias is unmoveable as the right-sided centre-back.
Aymeric Laporte would become the only left-footer if Ake left, meaning De Ligt would likely compete with John Stones to become first back-up.
He has played on the left side for the Netherlands on occasion, though it is hard to see him displacing a player of Laporte’s calibre given the positional disadvantage.
In contrast, De Ligt would slot straight in as the right-sided centre-half in a three under Tuchel. Thiago Silva would continue in the middle, with Ake – or whichever left-footer Tuchel signs – rounding out the trio.
What’s more, De Ligt has extensive experience playing in a back three for the Netherlands in recent years.